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Last week I spent two days in Chicago as part of a program I started this year through the Sudden Money Institute to become a Certified Financial Transitionist.  Many clients we work with originally sought out TAAG when they were going through some type of transition – whether they were preparing to retire, recently widowed, had received an inheritance or were going through a divorce.  Change is never easy and most of the aforementioned changes are things that most of us will experience only once in life.  Often these events are times of extreme stress which can cause people to make decisions they may later regret.   Throughout the course of this year and next, I will learn new tools I can use when working with clients to manage change.

Ironically, on my way out of town, I stopped by Drake Center, a long term acute care facility, to visit the husband of a client’s daughter who had recently had a stroke.  This was a life event neither of them had prepared for because he is not much older than my 46 years and was in good health.  They have only been married a few years and it is a second marriage for both.  Their finances are largely separate and they had not done any estate planning.  The wife’s first concern was the basics – how to pay her husband’s monthly bills (what ARE his monthly bills?) and finding out where his bank and other financial accounts are located.   I put her in touch with an estate planning attorney to have a durable power of attorney drawn up.  Fortunately, her husband had recovered enough to do this so she did not need to go through the court to have a conservatorship appointed. 

Her husband managed his own investment accounts when he was able and she wanted me to meet with him to discuss advising him on the accounts.  While he has been making steady progress over the last six weeks, his recovery will take time and the process is likely to bring both financial and emotional stress to both of them and their families.  I can help her prioritize the things that need to be addressed immediately, what should be on her radar but can wait and the decisions she will need to make in the future.  When you are experiencing an unfamiliar and unexpected event, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the decisions that need to be made – especially if you are facing them alone.

In order to be successful managing the changes in your life, it is important to know processes and tools that have helped others in a similar situation.  This can minimize potentially regrettable decisions you might make.  It’s easy to wait until a crisis strikes before seeking help.  By allowing us to guide you through the expected events in your life such as retirement, you will only become better equipped to handle the unexpected as well.